WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Co-Chair of the Senate Alzheimer’s Task Force, joined Co-Chair Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and a bipartisan group of colleagues in a letter to President Trump requesting an increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research in his fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request.
“Alzheimer’s is one of our nation’s leading causes of death and it is the only one of our nation’s deadliest diseases without an effective means of prevention, treatment, or cure,” the senators wrote. “If nothing is done to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, the number of Americans afflicted with the disease is expected to more than triple by 2050.”
In addition to Sens. Warner and Collins, the letter was also signed by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Boozman (R-AR), Ed Markey (D-MA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), and Bob Casey (D-PA).
“Federal funding for Alzheimer’s research is a wise investment,” the senators continued. “We urge you to support efforts to meet the research investment objective set forth in the National Plan by boosting the current investment in Alzheimer’s research in the fiscal year 2019 budget request.”
Sen. Warner has been a longstanding advocate in Congress for improving access and quality of medical care for some of our country’s most vulnerable patients. Last year, he introduced bipartisan legislation designed to give people with advanced illness, such as Alzheimer’s disease, new tools to plan for their care and empower them to have those choices honored.
A PDF copy of the letter is available here. Full text can be found below.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that exacts a tremendous personal and economic toll on the individual, the family, and our society. In addition to the human suffering it causes, Alzheimer’s is our nation’s most expensive disease, costing the United States more than $259 billion a year, including $175 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. These costs will skyrocket as the baby boom generation ages.
Alzheimer’s is also one of our nation’s leading causes of death. It is the only one of our nation’s deadliest diseases without an effective means of prevention, treatment, or cure.
If nothing is done to change the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, the number of Americans afflicted with the disease is expected to more than triple by 2050. Already our nation’s costliest disease, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost our country up to $1.1 trillion by 2050.
At a time when the United States is spending more than $200 billion a year to care for Alzheimer’s patients, we are spending less than two thirds of one percent of that amount on research. Although we have made progress in increasing funding, Alzheimer’s research funding remains disproportionately low compared to its human and economic toll. Indeed, similarly deadly diseases receive annual funding of $2 billion, $3 billion, and even $6 billion for research, which has paid dividends. Given the tremendous human and economic price of this devastating disease, we can do more for Alzheimer’s.
Investments in research for other diseases have yielded tremendous results: patients have access to new treatments, and death rates for some diseases are decreasing. Yet, at the same time, mortality due to Alzheimer’s is escalating dramatically. Fortunately, there is promising research that holds hope for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The research community is poised to make important advances through clinical trials and investigating new therapeutic targets, but adequate funding is critical to advance this research.
The National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, which was authorized by the bipartisan 2010 National Alzheimer’s Project Act, has as its primary goal to “prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025.” To meet that goal, the Chairman of the Advisory Council created by the legislation says that we will need to devote $2 billion a year to Alzheimer’s research. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 took a major step forward by providing a $428 million increase for Alzheimer’s disease including Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias research funding, the largest increase for Alzheimer’s research funding in history. Congress has recently taken additional steps to fight Alzheimer's with the enactment of the 21st Century Cures Act, which provides additional funding for the BRAIN Initiative and creates the breakthrough EUREKA prize competition to address pressing diseases, including Alzheimer's. These are critical achievements, but we need to do more.
Federal funding for Alzheimer’s research is a wise investment. We urge you to support efforts to meet the research investment objective set forth in the National Plan by boosting the current investment in Alzheimer’s research in the fiscal year 2019 budget request.
We remain committed to finding a way to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025, and we look forward to working with you to meet that goal.